Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Cry me a river, build a bridge


Image courtesy DDOT via JDLand.
Ch-ch-ch-ch changes: DDOT announced yesterday that parking meters will be operational on Saturdays, downtown enforcement will continue until 10:30 PM and most meters will increase the hourly rate to $2 beginning in mid-January. Calling free Saturday parking "one of the city's sweetest freebies," Washington City Paper's Christine MacDonald now fears the possibility of getting to her favorite transit-accessible coffee shops for some Saturday loafing without a car. Boo hoo? (Post, Chris R, City Paper, David A)

Streets are for cars, dummies: Looks like DC has its very own Veronica Moss in Wendy Gordon, who believes that after a snowfall people who get around by bike and on foot - "two-wheeled travelers on a four-wheeled street" - should stay indoors until the white stuff has melted. That way, drivers won't have to be careful enough to avoid hitting them. (The Georgetown Dish)

A safer city: DC's murder rate has dropped 25 percent since last year, continuing a trend seen in most major American cities, including New York and Los Angeles. (MPD-5D Listserv, NY Times, LA Times)

Too old to drive?: Since independence equals automobility in the suburbs, the generation that built suburbia is finding its lifestyle choices have become a prison in old age. Some have put down the keys; others refuse to drive at night or in bad weather. Those who continue to drive are often in danger: AAA reports that, other than teenagers, senior drivers have the highest crash-related death rate per mile. (Post, Abraham M.)

Distracted driver kills cyclist, pays $313: And that's after the driver asked for (but did not receive) a fine reduction. "I just didn't see him" is apparently a good enough excuse for killing someone in Maryland because you had a foggy windshield and were looking for your cigarette lighter. TheWashCycle and Baltimore Spokes have the details.

One road begins, another ends: Yesterday DDOT kicked off construction on the $300 million 11th Street bridge, which will provide a new local connection between the Navy Yard and historic Anacostia, as well as new ramps between the Anacostia and Southeast-Southwest freeways. Also yesterday, Mayor Fenty cut the ribbon on the reopening of Champlain Street through the Marie Reed Community Learning Center in Adams Morgan, which includes a contra-flow bike lane. (JDLand, Housing Complex, David A)

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Stephen Miller lived in the District from 2008 to 2011 and is now a student at Pratt Institute's city and regional planning masters program. 

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At the same time we're starting to charge for parking on Saturdays, making driving less appealing, we're considering cutting rail service to once every 15 minutes or worse, making driving more appealing.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 30, 2009 9:39 am • linkreport

Any word on whether the RPP hours will be extended along with the meter hours? It's been a concern that people will simply avoid meters and look for spots on RPP streets if they are remain free parking on Saturday. I sent DDOT an email asking for a clarification (since I couldn't find any additional information anywhere online) but haven't heard back yet.

by Adam L on Dec 30, 2009 9:40 am • linkreport

Also, I don't think the city should have proceed with these parking changes until we actually have functioning meters and after DDOT completes its the electronic meter pilot program.

Most of the complaints I've seen about the new rates and hours are not about the cost, but that the meters are too old (who's carrying around bags of quarters anymore?) and are consistently broken. If the city wants to charge higher rates over longer hours then fine, but give people a reliable way to pay.

by Adam L on Dec 30, 2009 9:54 am • linkreport

@Adam L: One of the comments in the latest parking today magazine was from a British gentleman who said that us Yanks would complain less about higher parking meter charges if we had a coin that was the size of a thick nickel but worth $2.

I like the pound coin. Feels like real money, and it is.

I put dollar coins in my car for meters, but unfortunately DC's are so old they don't take 'em. Arlington's do.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 30, 2009 10:05 am • linkreport

Need to carry around a whole lot of quarters when parking downtown on weekends.

by Fritz on Dec 30, 2009 10:25 am • linkreport

Re - 11th Street Bridge construction: Does anyone know what, if anything, is going to happen to the terminus of the SE/SW freeway as a result of this project? It's supposed to function as a road for RFK stadium when it is open for events, and closed at all other times, but people (and the cops that hang out there) ignore the Do Not Enter signs all the time.

by JTS on Dec 30, 2009 10:31 am • linkreport

also +1 MP the pound coin is probably my favorite piece of currency.

by JTS on Dec 30, 2009 10:33 am • linkreport

I agree that a few pound coins in your hand feels nice, but after a day about London, I'd end up with a heavy pocket of pound coins swishing around. I'd still rather have ten singles in my pocket than ten pound coins.

by Reid on Dec 30, 2009 10:53 am • linkreport

Well you can shovel as much snark as you want to, but I live in Silver Spring and like to come into DC to eat, shop and visit my girl friend, if I am going to have to pay for parking all day on Saturdays you can sure bet that I wont be doing much on that day. Also the later time means that I probably wont be able to go to services in the city anymore, and if residential parking is effected by this as well, I might not be able to to stay over at my girlfriends anymore. So good job DC.

by yonatan on Dec 30, 2009 12:50 pm • linkreport

@Reid, it's been a while since I went to London (2003?) but I remember that feeling. Those coins were usually breakfast and Tube/bus money the next day. I forget whether part of the problem was that I didn't see many £2 coins or a £2 note?

Euro countries were like that too. At least the merchants rounded prices so I didn't end up with a bunch of €0.05 and euro pennies.

Turkey was the strangest. Back in the late '90s their exchange rate was in the 1,000,000 to the dollar range, but their smallest bill was 100,000, so you had all these bills to pay for beers. I think super sizing it at Burger King was like 500,000.

I never went to Zimbabwe but of course they had the most bizarre money situation ever outside of wartime. Something like prices doubling every day or close.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 30, 2009 2:01 pm • linkreport

The snow reminded me of how in Rome, streets are for walkers, the cars have to wait for pedestrians. Thats the way it should be.

by Boots on Dec 30, 2009 2:15 pm • linkreport

The self righteous Georgetown driver is getting hammered on her blog. She wants us to believe she was being humorous.

by SJE on Dec 30, 2009 2:40 pm • linkreport

The saturday parking charge is dumb. It is just a money grab and has nothing to do with "encouraging people to take public transportation" There is very little traffic in DC on Saturdays. If Yonatan wants to spend the afternoon shopping at Macy's downtown, then I think she should be able to park for free.

And I know you are all anti-new roads, but the bridge upgrades are going to reduce traffic through residential areas on the Hill.

by beatbox on Dec 30, 2009 2:40 pm • linkreport

I particularly like her complaint about people walking in the streets, and doing so by walking against the flow of traffic. Um, that's exactly what they should be doing in that situation.

by Alex B. on Dec 30, 2009 2:49 pm • linkreport

@beatbox: if Macy's wants Yonatan to come downtown and park free, perhaps they should give him a couple of bucks for parking?

I haven't written an article about it yet, but Boulder, CO has a downtown parking validation system that does exactly that. The city used to sell tokens at a discount to businesses good for an hour of parking, the businesses would then give them to customers. The "clever like a fox" part was that since the customer had already paid for parking, the free token was both free parking and a reminder to come back to redeem it.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 30, 2009 3:10 pm • linkreport

The saturday parking charge is dumb. It is just a money grab and has nothing to do with "encouraging people to take public transportation" There is very little traffic in DC on Saturdays.

The question isn't one of traffic, but of parking. If there's plenty of parking where Yonatan goes, I'm inclined to agree with you. If there's not a lot of traffic, but cars parked bumper-to-bumper everywhere, a parking charge can make sense. (Properly speaking, this decision should be made at the neighborhood level -- there may be lots of parking in one area and none somewhere else -- but that apparently wasn't politically feasible.)

by cminus on Dec 30, 2009 3:38 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the before and after renderings of the new 11th Street Bridges Project.

Wow! I did not know that the design reloctaes southbound 295 (Anacostia Freeway) upon a high viaduct crossing. Will not that block views and increase noise?

It appears to me the as can be expected, the new urbanist distain for freways prevents them from being able to properly critique highway plans with an eye towards improved design.

Apparantly the Peter S Craig mentality is alive and well- alas:

http://wwwtripwithinthebeltway.blogspot.com/2009/12/peter-s-craig-editorial-reply.html

by Douglas A. Willinger on Dec 30, 2009 3:49 pm • linkreport

I've tried to go places in DC on Saturdays where the parking was jammed, and other places where there were a ton of empty spaces. Nothing in my experience with DC parking tells me that they made the decision to increase rates or hours based on actual measured demand.

Heck, even where the law tells them they *HAVE* to make changes based on demand (performance parking pilot areas), they don't, even when other people measure and point it out, or they measure it themselves and report on it.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 30, 2009 3:52 pm • linkreport

I have removed a comment by "John Catoe" that was obviously not by the actual John Catoe. Please do not impersonate actual people. Thanks.

by David Alpert on Dec 30, 2009 5:57 pm • linkreport

How many other major cities offer free parking on Saturdays?

When I lived in DC this summer, it shocked me how much free parking was available. We stopped by Silver Spring (not DC, I know) and couldnt find a street parking spot near the cuban restaurant we were going to. I went inside and asked if they validated at the garage, or if they had a suggestion for a street. He told me the giant garage was free on weekends. I was shocked. Coming from Boston, where garages charge $10 or so on weekends (for the day), I didn't expect it at all. I later found out the garages allow for free overnight parking. Again, blew my mind.

by J on Dec 31, 2009 4:57 am • linkreport

With this budget crisis, I don't see an alternative to charging on Saturday. It will have in impact on local merchants. I am canceling my gym membership in DC and moving it to VA. Also, since I won't be driving into DC on Saturday you're losing out on some food tax.

by charlie on Dec 31, 2009 9:13 am • linkreport

charlie: I don't know your individual gym plan, but isn't it quite costly to cancel and/or move your membership? I feel like you'd save money by not cancelling your membership, despite the small increase in your parking costs.

by JTS on Dec 31, 2009 10:26 am • linkreport

Who goes to Turkey and eats at a Burger King?

by Tony Perkins on Dec 31, 2009 12:13 pm • linkreport

The Georgetown Dish article is being slammed. Poor dear: she meant well, I think, but exposed her unconcious biases, and got a ton of email.

by SJE on Dec 31, 2009 3:46 pm • linkreport

I think it's been well established by the GGW commentariat that I have terrible taste in restaurants. This was 10+ years ago, before I had had much "ethnic" food other than Americanized Tex-Mex and "Chinese".

I probably also have terrible taste in music, movies, books and art. My favorite band very likely "sucks".

I just thought it crazy that something in the US that would be a couple of quarters took five bills because their money was weird.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 31, 2009 8:05 pm • linkreport

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